Expediency over Equity and Transparency in Evanston

Dear Neighbors,

The Central Street Neighbors Association shares the concerns expressed by the Evanston Minority Business Consortium (EMBC), Organization for Positive Action (OPAL), and others with respect to the surprise discussion by the Council recently suggesting simply hiring the acting City Manager, Erika Storlie as City Manager rather than finding a replacement for Wally Bobkiewicz through an open public process.

We urge the City to either use the transparent public selection process or postpone the decision until after the 2021 municipal election.
The move to preempt the current transparent and public City Manager selection process has multiple problems.
• It is bad for Evanston government … or any government.

  • It’s not transparent.
  • It’s not on the public agenda.
  • It’s impulsive.

• It preempts resident input.
That input was promised, through surveys, focus groups, and other means, and the proposed promotion would break that promise.
• It is tone deaf.
Short circuiting the public selection process is a tone-deaf disregard of heightened public sensitivity to historic racial equity issues in Evanston.
• It is untimely.
In less than a year Evanston will have a new Council and Mayor, who should not be saddled with a chief executive not of their choice. In a few months, we will have national elections, the results of which will enormously impact the potential federal funds on which Illinois and/or Evanston can count in the next few years of attempted recovery.
• It undercuts confidence in addressing current challenges.
The greatest challenge facing the City near-term is going to be fiscal, and serious questions exist as to what current City government — elected and staff — did to foresee and minimize that. A near-equal challenge is to restore confidence in City government. A hire by fiat addresses neither of these major issues.
• It does not restore confidence in addressing past mistakes:

  • Discrimination settlements
  • James Park litigation
  • Harley Clarke alienation
  • Controversial personnel decisions

• It has all the appearance of taking advantage of the pandemic for political expediency.
This move to preempt has occurred during a time in which no one could attend Council meetings, no one could assemble to discuss, no one could protest, no one could petition. A move to appoint a City Manager without public process would compound distrust created by this dynamic.
CSNA strongly urges the council to either get back on the transparent public selection process track OR  keep Ms. Storlie as Acting City Manager, and let the next Council and Mayor make the decision after a round of elections in which the public will have opportunity to vet candidates on their priorities for the City’s chief executive.

Please write your alderperson and let them know how you feel. This item is on the agenda for introduction this Monday June 8, 2020 5:30 PM. You can also follow the agenda link to sign up to speak via phone or video at the beginning of the meeting.

1st Ward - Judy Fiske: jfiske@cityofevanston.org
5th Ward - Robin Rue Simmons: rsimmons@cityofevanston.org
6th Ward - Tom Suffredin: tsuffredin@cityofevanston.org
7th Ward - Eleanor Revelle: erevelle@cityofevanston.org 

OPAL has also written a letter and is sponsoring both a rally and a petition.